A dictionary of commonly used - and often confusing! - Internet jargon...


Hopefully the translations, definitions and explanations of technical and computer lingo on this page will help you to speak the language of the Internet more fluently.

1xRTT (Single Carrier (1x) Radio Transmission Technology) An early wireless communication protocol for network connection of devices such as laptop computers. 1xRTT had the capability of providing data transfer speeds of up to 144 thousand bits per second .
A company that provides Internet access to its customers. The customer's modem dials a phone number at the provider's location to make the connection. If the provider's number is a local call, there is no further hourly charge. The provider's fee is usually a flat monthly rate. Now more usually a broadband (ADSL) connection.
Also see Internet Service Provider ISP
ActiveX A program used to create interactive content for World Wide Web sites. It was created by Microsoft as a competitor to Java, an extremely popular programming language from Sun Microsystems.
Acrobat is a file reader program which uses a format called PDF (Portable Document Format) which will display a document with the same formatting, layout, graphics and fonts used by the creator. The PDF can be viewed on a wide variety of different computer platforms. It is available free from its creator, Adobe at their Web site.
ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) Newer type of data communication which delivers and receives information on current telephone lines at a much greater speed. The Assymmetric part of the name means downloading occurs faster than uploading, so this will be particularly useful for Web browsing, since the flow is mostly one way to the user. (See DSL.)

( AD supported softWARE ) Software that is given away for "free" but causes advertising messages to appear on a regular basis.    or
( ADvertisement WARE ) Software that causes "pop up" ads on a user's computer. Adware is often installed without the user's knowledge, but sometimes with their inadvertant consent (clicking agree or accept on a licence without actually reading it - the part about AdWare is usually about 500 words into the licence) AdWare typically contains SpyWare and displays targeted adverts based on words searched for on the Web or information derived from the user's surfing habits that have periodically been sent secretly to the spyware's Web server.

Ajax (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) Method of adding content to a web page in which javascript code in the web page fetches XML data from the server and displays it without re-fetching the entire surrounding page at the same time (hence the 'Asynchronous')
Alta Vista One of the older major search engines.
An analog modem communicates over regular telephone lines by converting (modulating) computer (digital) data into sound. At the receiving end, the data must then be converted (demodulated) back to digital form. The speed of the analog modem is very slow compared to digital modems.
Animated GIF Animated GIF allows a series of images to be displayed one after another or on top of each other, displaying a simple type of animation. The advantage of animated GIFs over other animation programs for Web pages is that the user needs nothing extra besides his browser to see the animation. See GIF.
Anonymous FTP A system to retrieve documents, files and programs from computers on the Internet which provide public access via FTP. When a user name is asked for in order to log in, type the name "anonymous", and when a password is requested, use your e-mail address.
AOL (America Online) Once the most popular of the online services. Its aggressive marketing has enabled it to leapfrog its competitors with over 20 million subscribers. AOL's purchase of Netscape made them one of the top power players of the Internet, now AOL's recent purchase of the "social networking" site BeBo makes them even more powerful.
Applet A small Java program that can be downloaded quickly and used by any computer equipped with a Java-capable browser which adds animation and interactivity to the Web page.
ARPAnet "Advanced Research Projects Agency Network," the forerunner of the Internet. The Department of Defense developed it in the late 60s and early 70s to be an information network that could survive nuclear war. See also JANET
ASCII (Stands for "American Standard Code for Information Interchange" and is pronounced "ask-ee") A system of representing text by numbers that enables various computers to display the text in a uniform way.
@Home Network A provider of Internet connection via cable rather than phone lines at speeds hundreds of times faster. The @Home service is not yet available in all markets, but it is growing at a very fast rate and demand has been heavy. Widespread use of cable modems will revolutionize the Web browsing experience because download times will be dramatically cut, meaning full motion video and stereo quality sound will become practical on Web sites.
Attachment A file that is sent along with an e-mail message, rather than as a part of the message itself. This could be a large text file that you don't want to retype in the e-mail message, or a graphic or picture.
Backbone A high-speed line or series of connections that forms a major pathway within a network, such as the Internet.
Bandwidth How much "stuff" that goes through a network connection, measured in bits per second. One text page is about 16,000 bits. A 56k modem can move about 30,000 bits each second.
Baud Rate In a communications channel, such as a modem, a baud is a variation in the signal. The baud rate is the maximum number of these variations that can occur in a second. The fastest baud rate currently available in analog modems is 56,000, hence the name "56k modem".
BBS (Bulletin Board System) Works like its real world counterpart. A place to post messages and read messages left by others by computer. Most BBS systems charge a fee to belong and, if their phone number isn't a local call, you'll pay long distance charges for as long as you're connected. The Internet's version of a BBS is Usenet News, where there is no charge.
A version of a piece of software that is available to select users for test use before the actual release of the software to the public. Beta versions are often available for download from World Wide Web sites, but often still have "bugs" to be worked out.
Binary The number system used to produce computer data, where all information is represented by one of two digits, "1" or "0", known as "bits" (see below).
BinHex A program that converts the binary (see above) information in a picture or graphic to ASCII, which is a text format, thus making it quicker and easier to transmit over the Internet.
Bit A bit is the smallest unit of computer data, represented by "1" or "0", whereas a byte is a combination of bits, usually 8, that represents a single character.
Bitmap A graphic image formed by a pattern of pixels or dots. Some bitmap formats are GIF, JPEG, TIFF, BMP, and PICT. Graphic images on Web pages are bitmaps.
Bookmark A shortcut for accessing a location with a World Wide Web browser, FTP or e-mail software. Microsoft Internet Explorer calls these "favourites".
Bot Short for "robot". Refers to Internet programs designed to run automatically.
Browser Software used to access the World Wide Web. The major browsers are FireFox, Microsoft Internet Explorer  & Google Chrome
Byte A bit is the smallest unit of computer data, represented by "1" or "0", whereas a byte is a combination of bits, usually 8, that represents a single character. Frequently seen variations of byte include kilobyte, or one thousand bytes, and megabyte, which is one million bytes or one thousand kilobytes. 
Cache A temporary storage area on a computer to keep data available. Web browser software keeps a certain number of web pages that you've accessed in a cache so when you return to them they don't have to reload from over the Internet. See "cache cleanup" below.
An annoying announcement made by Netscape every once in a while when the size limit of the cache has been reached and the browser then cleans it out. On a slow computer, this can be a pain because nothing else can be happening while the cleanup occurs. On faster machines, you'll hardly notice.
Cancelbot A controversial 'bot" program used in Usenet newsgroups to fight spammers. The cancelbot automatically looks for and removes mass postings.
CGI (Common Gateway Interface) A form of script programming used on Web sites to permit clickable image maps, filling out forms and searching.
Channel On the IRC, an area devoted to a specific topic, sometimes referred to as a "chat room". A different meaning coming into use is a push channel, similar to a television channel, where a Web site's updated pages are automatically sent to a user who has signed up to receive material.
Chat Online instant communication in an area of the Internet known as the IRC (Internet Relay Chat). Two people "chat" by typing messages that appear on each other's computer screens as soon as they are typed and the ENTER key pressed. Multiple users can chat together in organized areas known as chat channels or rooms (see below).
Chat Channel An area devoted to a specific topic on the IRC, sometimes referred to as a "chat room".

Chat Forum


An area devoted to a specific topic on an Online Service or BBS.

A fast simpler browser from Google

ClariNet A set of newsgroups related to business topics not a part of the regular Usenet offerings, but available by paying a subscription cost for them, like the premium channels on cable or Sky TV.
Client The concept of "client" and "server" is one of the key building blocks of the Internet. A client is a software program used to contact and obtain data from a server program located on another computer. The terms have also come to mean the computers themselves.
Communicator Netscape's name for their combo product that includes Navigator, as well as e-mail, newsgroup and page editing components. now defunct.
Compress To squash a file to save space and to speed up transfers. Two well-known compression programs are Stuffit for Macintosh and WinZip for Windows.
CompuServe One of the first online services very Hi-Tech in it's day, used among others by the professions for it's security and reliability, which was passed in popularity by the "dumbed down" AOL. Subsequently bought out and eventually taken off the market by AOL .
Cookie Not chocolate chips, these are data files that let Web site operators and advertisers record the trail of sites that a person visits during a Web session as well as online purchases and transactions. The files are stored on the user's computer without his knowledge. The cookie enables the site to recognize you when you return by "branding" your browser with an electronic serial number. Some controversy is developing over whether sites should have to notify visitors when they are going to send a cookie.
Cracker A person who illegally gains access to someone else's computer or software. The term hacker is used incorrectly to mean what a cracker does.
Works on any platform. The Internet is cross-platform, while a piece of software, such as Excel or WordPerfect, is not. If you own the Windows version, it won't work on an Apple Macintosh computer.
Cross-Post To post a message to more than one Usenet newsgroup simultaneously. Frowned upon in most cases as a violation of netiquette.
CU-SeeME An Internet video conferencing program available as a free download from CU-SeeMe's Web site.
Cyberspace William Gibson coined the term in his novel Neuromancer. These days it refers to the whole range of computers, networks, people and information connected via the Internet.
Decode The process of transferring the form of a file back from ASCII after encoding and transfer. Or to reverse the process of encryption so that a file protected by being encrypted can again be used.
A type of account available from an Internet service provider where the customer, usually a business, is connected to the Internet 24 hours a day on its own individual phone line. Another type of account is a dial-up account, where a customer is connected to the Internet only when his modem dials the provider's number to make a connection. Mainly superceded by DSL & ADSL
Home Page
The page displayed by a World Wide Web browser when it is first opened.
Delurk Getting up the courage to actually post a message to a Usenet newsgroup where you've been lurking (reading messages without posting).
A type of account available from an Internet service provider where the customer connects to the Internet when his modem dials the provider's number. Another type of account is a dedicated line, often used by businesses, which provides a 24-hour connection.
Digital Made up of numbers, or digits. On a computer, the digits can only be "1"s or "0"s, which is a binary system.
A system for paying for purchases on the World Wide Web. Various companies have differing approaches. The basic idea is a kind of deposit system where you get some sort of online exchange medium to spend which is backed by real money you have in a bank account. Try the PayPal website
A digital modem communicates computer (digital) data directly without having to convert it as an analog modem does and is much faster than an analog modem. It uses a special digital phone line called an ISDN line.
A temporary storage area on a computer to keep data available. e.g. Web browser software keeps a certain number of web pages that you've accessed in a cache so when you return to them they don't have to reload from over the Internet. See cache cleanup.
Domain Name A unique name which identifies an Internet site & is the basis for an e-mail address. The names themselves are not bought, a person or company may register the name, often on an annual basis and they then have the right to re-register whenever the previous registration expires. Internet Name The Domain name "points or refers" to the IP Address
Download To copy a computer file (which can contain text, graphics, sound, even a whole application) from another computer to yours over the Internet.
DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) A new type of data communication which will deliver and receive information on the current telephone lines at a much greater speed. Upload speed is the same as Download speed. Only available in a few areas so far. Also ADSL
EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) A nonprofit foundation formed by Mitch Kapor and John Perry to fight for computer privacy and the protection of civil liberties in the computer world.
E-Mail Stands for electronic mail, or messages transmitted electronically via computer, using an e-mail software program.
Just as your street address is where your mail is sent in the physical world, an e-mail address identifies your Internet location for mail delivery. The address consists of a unique name or number that identifies you followed by the @ symbol and then the name of the "host" organization, which could be a business, university, or Internet service provider. Recently more & more people are getting their own personalised e-mail address instead of using the "hosts".
Emoticon (Also known as Smileys) Faces made using keyboard symbols to liven up E-Mail messages, IRC chats and Usenet newsgroup postings. eg a smile :-) tilt your head to the left, see it sideways
Encode To convert data to a special format that is easier to transfer. Examples are BinHex for FTP and Uuencode for Usenet newsgroups.
Encryption Scrambling of data being transmitted over the Internet in order to prevent anyone but the intended recipient from reading it. On the receiving end, the data must be decoded to return it to its original condition.
Eudora E-Mail Software for both Windows and Macintosh. A version called Eudora Light is available to download as freeware and a commercial version called Eudora Pro is sold in computer stores.
Excite! One of the major search engines.
Expand The process of returning a compressed file to its original form.
Extension A short, usually 2 3 or 4 character code at the end of a file name (after a full stop) that identifies the type of file. In older DOS formats the extension was limited to 3 characters.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Documents available on the Internet, usually in Usenet newsgroups or on the World Wide Web that answer the most common questions on a particular subject. Newbies with a question should check out FAQs for the answer before posing the question to other individuals or groups. Knowbies grow tired of answering the same questions over and over.
Fat Binary A version of a program that stores the code for both Power Macs as well as older 68k Macs enabling owners of either one to use it.
Refers to cable containing threads of pure glass. Lasers attached to the end of such cable can send digital patterns of light pulses at hitherto unimaginable speeds, particularly when compared to the copper wire in regular analog phone lines.
Filters A way of sorting and categorizing incoming e-mail. An example would be routing all mail from a particular source to its own folder.
Finger Software that is used to see if a particular person has an account at an Internet site. Many sites do not allow Finger requests.
FireFox Fast, Secure, Customisable Internet Browser.       
Firewall A security system that stands between a local network and the Internet to prevent potentially damaging direct access to internal systems.
Flame Derogatory comments communicated on the Internet, particularly in Usenet newsgroups. When a discussion degenerates into a series of personal attacks, it is known as a flame war.
Frames A layout style of a Web page, which permits different content to appear on separate areas of the page so that an index can remain stationary while different content appears in another part or frame of the page. This has become a very popular method of presenting pages, particularly since the current versions of both the major browsers, Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator display frames properly.
Freenet Free community-based information services, which can sometimes include limited Internet access.
Freeware Software that is available to download from sites on the Internet without cost. Similar software known as "shareware" differs in that the author asks you to send a small payment if you keep and use the program.
FTP FTP stands for "File Transfer Protocol" a bit of computer lingo to describe the process of being able to access computers around the world and copy files from them to your computer.
Communication where both sides can transmit at the same time, unlike half-duplex communication where only one side can transmit at a time.
Gateway A computer that connects two networks or systems and translates data so it is usable on each system.
Geekosphere The area around your computer with its array of debris, trinkets and other personal effects.
GIF A file format for graphics (pictures) widely used on the Internet to put images in Web pages. Different types include animated gifs, interlaced gifs, and transparent gifs.
Google Leading search engine, helps you find information on the 'net - but also accumulates information about you !!! supposedly to target relevant advertising at you. Do you really want every website you have ever visited listed via google complete with date & time and available to government agencies !! (check google's terms & conditions).
Gopher Software that provides a menu of material available from Internet sites. Gopher was the first software developed to make the use of FTP easier for non-technical users.
Hacker A computer enthusiast, who tries to test the limits of computer systems. The term is sometimes confused with a cracker, someone who breaks into computer networks to steal or vandalize information.
Communication where only one side can transmit at a time, unlike full-duplex communication where both sides can transmit at the same time.
A program, usually shareware, that adds functions to a browser, such as sound players, video players and compression utilities. A helper is a separate application that is launched outside the browser when needed. Similar functions can be handled a little more simply by plug-ins which perform right within the browser.
Hierarchy The main categories of Usenet newsgroups.
Hit A term used to describe the accessing of a World Wide Web page. Even though figures are tossed around of number of hits as proof of the popularity of sites, a hit is not an accurate measurement of traffic to a site because different pages may require the browser to "hit" several times to bring the page in.
Home Page The page displayed by a World Wide Web browser when it is first opened.
Host A single or multi user computer that can send and receive data over the Internet that makes files or resources available to other computers.
HotBot One of the many search engines.
Hotlist List of URLs of web sites that your browser stores so that you don't have to remember or type in the URL for a return visit. Also known as bookmarks in Netscape Navigator and favorites in Microsoft Explorer.
HTML (HyperText Markup Language) The computer programming language used to create World Wide Web pages. See "hypertext" below.
HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) The protocol that tells a server what to send to the client, so the client can view Web pages, FTP sites, or other areas of the Internet.
Hypertext The use of tags to identify links in a document that, when clicked on with the mouse, take the user to a different page.
InfoSeek One of the original search engines.
A picture or graphic on a World Wide Web page that has been coded with HTML so that you can click on various parts of the picture and be linked to different pages.
Computer chip manufacturer whose products, including Pentium, run a significant portion of the world's computers.
Interface The general meaning is any connection between two pieces of hardware, software, or a user and an application. The most common usage refers to the look and feel of the screen in a program -- all the bars, buttons, colors and shapes that assist the user in understanding and using the program.
Interlaced GIF Interlaced GIFs allow the entire image to appear quickly in the browser with just a few pixels and then improve in resolution until the entire image has arrived. This gives the viewer a quick idea of what the entire image will look like while waiting for the rest. See Gif.
Internet A vast collection of computer networks interconnected by a protocol known asTCP/IP. Current growth is estimated at about a million new users each month.
A World Wide Web browser which debuted in 1995 and was designed by Microsoft to challenge the supremacy of Netscape Navigator among browsers. The current version (5.5) looks like it may have caught up with and in some respects even surpassed Navigator.
Internet Name Same as Domain name, an address on the Internet for websites & e-mails. Controlled by InterNIC
ISP A company that provides Internet access to its customers. The customer's modem dials a phone number at the provider's location to make the connection. If the provider's number is a local call, there is no further hourly charge. The provider's fee is usually a flat monthly rate.
More recently an ADSL or broadband connection is used.
InterNIC (Internet Network Information Center) The organization that keeps track of and issues new domain names.
Intranet Intranets are suddenly hot. They are internal networks for companies, based on the same technology as the Internet, rather than traditional and much more complicated Local Area Network software, or LANs.
IP Address A unique identification for every computer on the Internet in the form of four sets of numbers (1-255) separated by dots. (Example: Another form of ID in words is the domain name. A Name Server translates between a domain name and it's associated IP Address.
IRC (Internet Relay Chat) A section of the Internet where users can "chat" with others by typing messages which appear on the monitors of other users as soon as they are sent. Anyone can create a channel which is a private area for a chat. Messages can be sent one-on-one to another user or broadcast to everyone in the channel (Chatroom ).
ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) ISDN is a phone line that moves data digitally, a much faster way of transmitting than traditional analog phone lines and modems. Analog lines require the data to be translated from digital to analog, then sent over the line, then translated back to digital for the computer at the other end. A digital line eliminates this step. Phone companies are currently rushing to install ISDN lines which will substantially reduce access times for World Wide Web pages and download times for FTP files.
ISP (Internet Service Provider) A company that provides Internet access to its customers. The customer's modem dials a phone number at the provider's location to make the connection. If the provider's number is a local call, there is no further hourly charge. The provider's fee is usually a flat monthly rate. Now more usually broadband ADSL
JANET (Joint Academic NETWork.) Early forerunner of the Internet similar to ARPANET. Used to connect University and College computers.

Developed by Sun Microsystems, Java is a programming language that has become extremely popular in the creation of World Wide Web sites, particularly small Java programs called "Applets" which add animation, sound and interactivity to a Web page.
Javascript A scripting language for Web pages which make it easy to add interactivity to Web pages. Some effects that are now possible with JavaScript were once only possible with the more complicated CGI. The server where the page is located must be set up to provide CGI scripting, while Javascript is built right into the browser.
JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) A type of graphics format that provides generally better quality than GIF images, but consists of more data, so takes more time to load on a Web page.
Jughead A program for Gopher searches that looks for key words in directory titles only, unlike Veronica, a program which searches both directories and menus.
Kermit Software for transmitting files developed at Columbia University, which is primarily used by educational institutions.
Keyword A word for which a search is made by a search engine. Keyword refers both to the word the user of the search engine types in and to words listed by a Web site developer in an area of the HTML coding for a Web page called the "meta tag". The search engine compares the two and provides a list of matches to the user.
Kilobyte One thousand bytes.
Knowbie Someone who knows their way around the Internet and is comfortable using the various programs needed for online activity. The opposite of a "Newbie".
Link A part of a Web page (text or graphics) that has been coded using hypertext so that when a user clicks on the link with the mouse, a new Web page is displayed.
Listserv A commercial mail server software that automates distributing messages via e-mail to subscribers of a Mailing List.
Login The name of your account used to access a computer system, such as your Internet service provider. Usually used in combination with a password, which you choose, and which is replaced by asterisks when you type it on the screen so as not to be visible to anyone else. Another name for a login is a "userid".
Lurk To read a Usenet newsgroup or hang around in a chatroom without ever making yourself known by posting. See delurk.
Lycos One of the earlier major search engines. They have a comprehensive list of links to the major engines and some specialized ones which you can visit.
Macromedia A leading developer and marketer of multimedia, graphic, and video software, including Director and Freehand, with more than 2-1/2 million satisfied users. Their most important product as far as the Web goes is Shockwave, which compresses files made with other Macromedia products for successful viewing on Web sites with interactivity, animation, and sound.
MacTCP A utility program included in the Macintosh operating system that provides TCP/IP, which enables the Mac to connect to the Internet.
A list of users who will receive copies of information on a particular topic which is distributed periodically by e-mail. A mail server software, such as Listserv, receives contributions and distributes them to all subscribers.
Mbone (Multicast Backbone) An experimental and very high speed method of transmitting simultaneously to many Internet sites, for the purpose of broadcasting audio and video, such as live concerts.
A virus scanner is an absolute necessity these days, and McAfee provides one of the best. A solid, intuitive graphical interface simplifies the scanning process. VirusScan even runs in the background, allowing you to continue your work (or play) while it does it's job. The ability to configure scanning levels (specify file types), print activity logs, and the fact that McAfee updates this software very frequently, makes McAfee VirusScan a winner.
Megabyte Measurement of data -- a million bytes or a thousand kilobytes. Most commonly used to measure the working memory area of your computer, e.g., 16 megabytes used to be considered plenty, but now 32 and even 64 are becoming more desirable as programs grow in size.
MetaCrawler One of the major search engines.
Microsoft The 50 stone gorilla of the computer software world is headquartered in Seattle, Washington, and led by world's richest man, Bill Gates.
A World Wide Web browser which debuted in 1995 and was designed by Microsoft to challenge the supremacy of Netscape Navigator among browsers. The current version is 7.0. Explorer is now the browser used by something like 75-80% of Web users.
A fairly new online service operated by Microsoft which was supposed to challenge America Online, but so far is a distant second to AOL in popularity.
MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) A protocol for data exchange between music snythesizers and computers. .MID is the file extension that identifies a MIDI file. Increasingly, .MID files are being used in Web pages as they tend to be smaller than recordings of actual instruments. However, the artificial sound of MIDI is not uniformly popular. (Tends to sound like the Alvin & the Chipmunks Orchestra.)
MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension) A way of attaching files, including non-text files such as graphics, spreadsheets or sound, to E-Mail messages.
An FTP site which contains an exact copy of the files at another site. Popular sites develop mirror sites so that more people can access the files. The best use of bandwidth is to use the mirror site that is closest to your geographic location.
MMX A technology developed by Intel which upgraded their popular Pentium computer chip and enabled greater handling of multimedia such as video and audio.
Modem (MOdulator, DEModulator) A device that uses a telephone line to connect a computer to other computers.
A Usenet newsgroup or Mailing List where submissions first go to an individual who serves as Moderator (see below), who must approve an item before it is distributed to the group or list.
Moderator A person who determines which submissions to a Moderated List (see above) are to be distributed to the whole group.
Mosaic The first World Wide Web browser available for all major platforms. The explosion in popularity of the Web began with the advent of Mosaic, which brought color, graphics, and other possibilities to what was previously an all-text medium.
.mov The file extension that identifies an Apple QuickTime movie.
MP3 This type of MPEG1 (Layer 3) sets a standard for audio compression, capable of 10:1 compression with no noticeable loss in quality. (See "MPEG" below.) The only disadvantage to this format is that MP3 needs to be decoded while it is being played back. This is done with a player such as WinAmp, Winplay, MusicMatch etc.
MPEG (Motion Picture Experts Group) A standard for compressing sound and movie files into an attractive format for downloading or even streaming over the Internet. MPEG files are usually smaller than QuickTime or Video for Windows files, though the quality isn't always as good.


Name Server

Literally, the use of more than one medium in transmitting information. In the computer world, multimedia refers to the use of any combination of text, full color images and graphics, video, animation and sound.

Computer on the Internet that provides translation between a human friendly domain name and it's associated numerical IP Address that routers use to direct traffic (data) around the Internet.

Navigator A World Wide Web browser that has gone from almost total domination to seeing its rival, Microsoft Internet Explorer, corner 85-90% of the market.
NCSA (National Center for Supercomputing Applications) Originators of Mosaic and Telnet. A part of the U.S. government's National Science Foundation, located at and affiliated with the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.
Netiquette A set of generally accepted, but unwritten, standards of considerate Internet behavior that have grown up through repeated usage.
Netizen A citizen of the Internet (Welcome, Netizen!).
By far the most popular World Wide Web browser.The current version is 4.0., which is part of a software suite called Communicator. Navigator is based on Mosaic, and Marc Andresson, the inventor of Mosaic, is the Vice President for Technology of Netscape.
Newbie Someone new to the Internet, usually bewildered by what's out there and what to do with it. The term is often used derisively by oldtimers, but they should remember that everyone was a Newbie once.
Newsgroup The name given to an individual discussion group on Usenet.
Newsreader Software used to access Usenet newsgroups to read and post articles.
A company that maintains its own network of information, forums, games, files and services, which charge a monthly fee and (sometimes) an hourly rate for access. These services are now feeling the competition from the Internet and are offering Internet access as a part of their services. The major online services are America Online, CompuServe and the Microsoft Network.
Password A secret code used to gain access to a computer system, usually used in conjunction with a login.
PDF (Portable Document Format) is used by Adobe Acrobat to permit viewing of a document on a wide variety of computer platforms which retains the formatting, layout, graphics and fonts used by the creator.
Pentium (Current version is Pentium III) A computer microprocessor (and the chip that runs it) produced by Intel using advanced semiconductor manufacturing process technology which is less than a micron (one-millionth of a meter) in size. A large majority of the new computers being sold throughout the world are run by the Pentium chip.
PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) A highly secure encryption program originally written by Philip Zimmermann. Over the past few years, PGP has got thousands of adherent supporters all over the globe and has become a de-facto standard for encryption of e-mail on the Internet. For more information, go to the International PGP Web site.
Ph Ph is a method of looking up directory information, usually including e-mail addresses at universities, research institutions, and some governmental agencies throughout the world.
PING (Packet Internet Groper) A program used to determine if a computer is properly connected to the Internet.
Platform Refers to the basic operating system of a computer or server, such as Macintosh, DOS, Windows, Unix, BSD, Sun, Linux. See "cross-platform".
Plug-in A program, usually shareware, that adds functions to a browser, such as sound players, video players and compression utilities. A plug-in is set up within the browser so that its functions occur right in the browser. This is preferable to a helper application, which is launched separately from the browser when needed.
PointCast The leader in the field of push technology that delivers Web pages (primarily news, weather, stocks, sports) selected by users to their computer rather than the traditional method of the user going to the Web site to see the page.
POP (Post Office Protocol) A means to enable a user to read e-mail from a mail server.
Posting Placing a message on a BBS or Usenet newgroup for others to read.
PPP (Point to Point Protocol) A means of using a phone line and modem to make a TCP/IP connection to the Internet. This has become the most popular form of dial-up connection, replacing SLIP in popularity.
The company that created and markets RealPlayer, which includes RealAudio and RealVideo, which uses a technology called streaming to broadcast live audio and video over the Web.
Protocol An agreed upon set of rules for communication between computer systems.
A group of protocols (see above) that work together to enhance communication between computer networks.
Provider A company that provides Internet access to its customers. (see also ISP) The customer's modem dials a phone number at the provider's location to make the connection. If the provider's number is a local call, there is no further hourly charge. The provider's fee is usually a flat monthly rate.
More recently ADSL or broadband is the usual connection.
A recent but fast growing addition to the way users can access information on the Web. A user subscribes to a push service and fills out a profile listing the type of information in which they are interested. A site broadcasts a "channel", much like a television channel. The information is "pushed" to the user's computer for viewing at a convenient time, rather than "pulled" by the viewer choosing to go to a particular Web site to view the information. Whenever there are updates to the channel, they are automatically broadcast to the user.
QuickTime Developed by Apple Computer but no longer limited to just the Macintosh, QuickTime is a method of storing sound, graphics, and movie files. The file extension that identifies a QuickTime file is ".mov".
RealAudio Software from Progressive Networks that provides live audio over the Web using a technology called streaming.
RealPlayer The vehicle through which a user can play RealAudio and RealVideo files within their browser. It is available for free download from Progressive Networks' Web site.
RealVideo Software from Progressive Networks that provides live video over the Web using a technology called streaming.
Remote In FTP, Remote refers to the computer from which you download files. The computer receiving the files (yours) is referred to as "Local".
Robot Refers to Internet programs designed to run automatically (more commonly referred to as "bot").
Router A device on a network or Internet that examines IP Address / data coming in and determines where to send it on to its ultimate destination.
SavvySearch One of the major search engines (see below).
Search.com One of the major search engines (see below).
A program which enables a user to type in words or phrases which the engine uses to search through a database of Web sites. A list of sites where there was a match is presented with links so that the searcher can go directly to a particular site. Google Yahoo etc.
Server A computer, or software for a computer, that provides various services to other computers, known as clients. The concept of client and server is one of the key building blocks of the Internet. The client is a software program used to contact and obtain data from the server program located on another computer. The terms have also come to mean the computers themselves.
A company that provides Internet access to its customers. The customer's modem dials a phone number at the provider's location to make the connection. If the provider's number is a local call, there is no further hourly charge. The provider's fee is usually a flat monthly rate.
Shareware Software that is available to download from sites on the Internet. The author allows you to try the software and if you like it, send a small amount (usually in the £10 to £25 range), strictly on the honour system. Similar software that is completely free is known as "freeware".
Shockwave A plugin which plays multimedia files created with various products from Macromedia to be viewed in a browser. Shockwave dramatically compresses the file so that it loads quickly and uses streaming technology so that the user can see and hear what's happening as soon as the page begins loading rather than waiting for the whole file to come in before anything happens.
Signal to
Noise Ratio
The amount of useful information to be found in a given site or Usenet newsgroup, often used derogatorily. The signal is the useful information, the noise is the extraneous stuff. Also applies to quality of transmission in analogue wireless radio transmissions.
Signature A 3-4 line "slogan" at the end of an E-Mail or chat, newsgroup posting designed to reflect the sender's personality, which is automatically attached to the bottom of each outgoing / uploaded message.
SLIP (Serial Line Internet Protocol) A means of using a phone line and modem to make a TCP/IP connection to the Internet. The use of SLIP connections has been superseded for the most part by PPP.
Smileys (Also known as Emoticons) Faces ;-) made using keyboard symbols to liven up E-Mail messages, IRC chats and Usenet newsgroup postings. To see a complete listing, click here: Smiley List. including cartoons
Snail Mail A slightly derisive reference to the Postal Service, which is seen in the Internet world as definitely inferior to e-mail, moving at the pace of a snail, taking several days to deliver a message that takes a few seconds by e-mail.
Socket A subdivision of a network or computer that is reserved for a single process or application.
Social Network Websites such as MySpace, BeBo, Facebook etc are social networking sites that allow people to interact with each other direct on the webpage, with text and photos.
Spam Sending the same message to a large number of people who didn't ask for it is known as "spamming". Hormel Corporation, makers of Spam, the food product, probably resents the appropriation of the term and its negative connotation.
Spamdex A combination of "spam" (see above) and "index" (also known as keyword stuffing). Since some search engines rank the relevance of Web sites by counting how many times they contain the keyword that a user has entered, Web site developers put countless repetitions of a favorite word on a page (often in invisible type or hidden behind GIFs) so that the link to their site will appear at the top of the list produced by the search engine for the user to see. The viewer may not notice it, but to the search engine, the page mathematically seems a better match and it is bumped to the top of the list.
SpyWare ( Spy softWare ) Sends information about WebSites you visit & your surfing habits back to it's server, this enables the server to send adverts about items or services you appear to be interested in directly to your computer (targeted advertising). Often installed on your computer via a "free" program or utility you chose to download from the Internet. Also known as "scumware", "junkware", "parasite software" and "thiefware" spyware can sometimes be inadvertantly installed just by visiting a Web site "driveby download"
StreamWorks A multimedia player from Xing Technology Corporation which uses "streaming" technology (see next definition) to offer real time audio and video over the Internet.
Streaming A technology that allows a sound or video file on a Web page to begin playing as soon as the beginning of the file arrives. Without streaming, the entire file (file sizes are very large for sound and video) must be downloaded before anything can happen. As becomes more widely used, sound and video will become much more commonplace on Web pages.
Stuffit A Macintosh utility that compresses and decompresses data.
Subscribe (1) Sign up to receive a mailing list via e-mail or (2) Add a Usenet newsgroup to a personalized list of groups for easy access.
Surfing Moving around from site to site on the World Wide Web, usually in a somewhat random fashion by going to a site, seeing a link to another site, following the link, and so on.
Sysop (System Operator) Anyone responsible for the physical operation of a computer system. Some pronounce it "SIGH-SOP", others say "SIS-OP".
T1 A type of high speed connecting backbone line that can carry up to 1.536 million bits per second (1.536Mbps).
T3 A type of high speed connecting backbone line that can carry up to 45 million bits per second (45Mbps).
Tag Tags are the HTML codes that tell your browser software what to display on a World Wide Web page, including things like formatting, positioning of graphics, and links to other pages.
TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) The protocol stack which is used to run the Internet.
Telnet Software used for text-only access to another computer, frequently used to access bulletin boards and mainframe computers.
Thread A Usenet newsgroup forum or blog posting and all the messages posted in response to it. The responses will often be preceded by "RE:".
Thumbnail A small version of an image to give the viewer an idea of what a full size image is like (lets the page load quicker). When a user clicks on the thumbnail, the larger version will be loaded.
Transparent GIF Transparent GIFs allow the designer to assign one color to be transparent so that color will be replaced by the browser's background color, whatever it may be. This reduces file size and can increase the download speed. See GIF.
Trolling Intentionally disrupting a Usenet newsgroup, forum or blog by posting obviously inaccurate or inflammatory information hoping to get a rise out of people. The perpetrators are known as "trolls".
UNIX A computer platform that is most common for servers on the Internet. UNIX is not a popular platform for Newbies because it is primarily text only, its commands are archaic and confusing, and they must be entered in a case sensitive manner.
Upload Putting a copy of a file from your computer onto a remote computer or server (the opposite of a download).
URL Stands for "Uniform Resource Locator", but you don't need to remember that. Just remember that a URL is a web page's address on the Internet, the way you find it, like an address in the physical world identifies where someone is.
Usenet A worldwide system of discussion groups on the Internet, also known as newsgroups. There is no central organization or rules for these groups, which can be initiated by any user, and which come and go frequently.
Userid Another name for a Login.
Utility A small computer program that enhances the capabilities of World Wide Web browsers and FTP software.
Uudecode A utility program that restores a binary file to its original format for local viewing after downloading from a Usenet newsgroup or receipt as an attachment to an e-mail message. (See Uuencode below.)
Uuencode A utility program that takes a binary file, which could be a program or graphic, and converts it to ASCII text for easier transfer to a Usenet newsgroup or as an attachment to an e-mail message.
VDOnet Corporation is a leading provider of real-time video for the Internet. Their flagship products are VDOLive, the leading solution for Internet video broadcasting, and the award-winning VDOPhone, the first full-color video telephone for either the Internet or regular phone lines.
Veronica (Very Easy Rodent Oriented Net-wide Index to Computerized Archives) A database of names of Gopher servers.
A conference between two or more participants at different locations over the Internet or a private network. Each user has a video camera, microphone, and speakers mounted on his or her computer. As the participants speak to one another, they hear each other's voices and see a video image of the other participant(s).
VivoActive A streaming audio/video product, which enables Web surfers to watch and listen to uninterrupted content that starts to play as soon as they click. VivoActive is the only streaming product so far that is serverless, meaning no special equipment at the sending end is required, just a player at the user's end, which can be downloaded at no charge from their Web site.
WAIS (Wide Area Information Server) A commercial program that conducts database searches on the Internet, using natural language requests and which ranks the responses according to relevance.
.wav A sound file format for creating sounds in the Windows environment. Wav files are popular on Web page and can be heard on any platform, not just Windows.
Short for "World Wide Web", the multimedia portion of the Internet, with color, graphics, sound, video and other possibilities. The Web is made up of pages organized into sites all over the globe linked by hypertext. The exploding popularity of the Web had made it a household word seemingly overnight.
Web2.0  Web2 The old web had page content uploaded by ftp, usually by webmasters and web site designers, the advent of web2.0 empowered the casual internet user to upload and change text / images on a website directly from their computer browser, leading to weblogs, myspace, bebo, facebook etc.
Webcasting The process of providing audio and/or video news or entertainment content over the Web using streaming technology. Also sometimes used to refer to providing content via push technology. More recently known by the term PodCasting.
Webcrawler One of the major search engines.
WebTV A system designed to deliver Web pages and e-mail via a user's television set using a set top box similar to a cable box without any need for a computer. WebTV is the company that invented and sells the technology. The set top boxes are manufactured by Sony and Phillips Magnavox. Navigation is through a remote control which is very cumbersome, but an optional wireless keyboard improves the experience tremendously.
Whois A way to look up names in a remote database helpful for finding details of the owners of Domain names. including e-mail address.
Windows A computer window is a viewing area of the screen. It can fill the entire screen, or there can be more than one window open at a time. Early computers lacked this capacity. Microsoft Corporation took the name for their operating system, which has gone through several upgrades. From the original Windows version 1 in 1983 through version 2, Windows 3.0, Windows 3.1, Windows for Workgroups 3.11, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7 to the current version - Windows 8.
Winsock A Windows application that sets up a socket to establish an Internet connection through TCP/IP.
Wintel A word coined from "Windows" and "Intel" to refer to the computers run by Intel chips and the Windows operating system, which make up the overwhelming majority of personal computers in the world.
WinZip A Windows utility that compresses and decompresses data.
World Wide
WWW - The "multimedia" portion of the Internet, with color, graphics, sound, video and other possibilities. The Web is made up of pages organized into sites all over the globe linked by hypertext. The exploding popularity of the Web made it a household word seemingly overnight.
www2 www2 is often seen in a URL as a subdomain, this allows the website owner to have 2 completely separate websites but apparently with the same address identity. Often used with large complex sites where some service such as a database, interactive catalogue or content needs a different server platform or programming language from the original site, the alternative could be an expensive total conversion / redesign / rebuild of the old site to utilise the new system / language. see www2
Wysiwig (What You See Is What You Get) A program in which you can see the effects of formatting rather than just the codes that produce it. WYSIWIG programs for designing Web pages enable a page designer to see how the page is going to look rather than just seeing the text code.
XML (eXtensible Markup Language) A widely used system for defining data formats. XML provides a very rich system to define complex documents and data structures. The definition of the data (referred to as a Schema) allows creation of a routine or program to accurately & reliably process the data.
Yahoo! The first and still very popular search engine created by David Filo and Jerry Yang while at the Department of Computer Science at Stanford University.
Zip A type of computer file format to compress a file to save space and to speed up transfers. A compression/expansion program is used to accomplish this (and also to expand or decompress the file after transfer).
Zip Disk/
Zip Drive
A zip disk is a portable storage medium which will hold 100 megabytes. The zip drive, which is used to access the zip disks, can be mounted on a computer internally or externally. Although some older commercial software requires a Zip drive, they are now superceded by portable external drives with capacities of hundreds of Giga Bytes, many now available at 3 or 4 TeraByte capacities.

Return to top of page